HC Deb 26 April 1951 vol 487 cc571-3

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many ounces of fine gold there are at present in Great Britain; and where they are stored.

Mr. H. Hynd

On a point of order. Would it not be dangerous to let the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers) have this information?

Mr. W, J. Taylor

He has not got it yet.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Douglas Jay)

The reply is: It would not be in the public interest to give details of the disposition of our gold holdings.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask the Government side of the House to keep quiet for a few moments while the Financial Secretary repeats his answer, because I did not hear it?

Mr. Jay

I said that it would not be in the public interest to give the hon. Member the information.

Sir W. Smithers

Are the Government taking immediate steps to mint all this gold into sovereigns and put it into circulation, so that we can have sound money instead of a lot of Socialist paper?

Sir H. Williams

Can the Financial Secretary say why the public should not know what are our reserves of gold and dollars? What is the ground for his statement?

Mr. Jay

I am not declining to give the House the actual total of our gold and dollar reserves. They are published every three months. What would be contrary to the public interest is to say where they are located.

Mr. Fernyhough

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that his reply was intended as a reflection upon the character of the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)?

Mr. Jay

No, Sir, I should have given the same reply to any hon. or right hon. Member.

Sir W. Smithers

Will the hon. Gentleman say—never mind where it is stored—what is the amount of gold already in this country? He said he would.

Mr. Jay

That is another question, but the total at the end of March, 1951, was £1,342 million.

Mr. W. J. Taylor

On a point of order. Is it in order, Sir, for the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) to cast aspersions on the character of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers)? Should he not be called upon to withdraw?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

There has been so much noise that I have heard nothing. I have not even heard the hon. Gentleman's question.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask you not to worry, Mr. Speaker? I take it whence it comes.